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Munawar Hasan through the years

“Kashmir is the lifeline of Pakistan and the mujahideen are fighting for the cause of Pakistan,” Munawar Hasan, acting chief of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party, told a rally of about 2,000 in Karachi.

“Nawaz Sharief is the traitor of all traitors and should be treated as such when he returns to Pakistan,” he said. “The movement against Nawaz Sharief will continue till his ouster.”

July 6 1999

”It’s a shame for the Pakistani government,” said Syed Munawar Hasan, the secretary general of the Islamic Party, the country’s most powerful religious party. ”There will be a pro-India government in Kabul, thanks to them. In fact, India now has two prime ministers, Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pervez Musharraf.”

November 14, 2001

ATol: “You reckon that there are so many contradictions between the West and the Muslim world, is there any chance of reconciliation and dialogue between the two civilizations?”

Munawar: “There is none. The basic concepts of both civilizations are in total contrast with each other. When I say this I do not address Western civilization as Christianity. I speak of a man-made system completely devoid of divine guidance. Our concepts of God, human beings, the universe, are totally in contrast with the concepts of the Western world. We cannot segregate human lives into private and public, our lives are ruled by divine guidance, not by man-made rules based on his own prejudices and specific mindset characterized by its own dilemmas and shortcomings. Our concept of the universe is not materialistic, and the result of an ‘accident’. Instead, it was a very well thought out process envisaged by the creator of the universe with a plan. So these basic concepts have made the difference between ours and Western approaches.”

Dec 4, 2003

“Taliban and al-Qaeda members are our brothers. Whether it is Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar, we will not hand over anybody to the US without any proof.”

October 12 2008

Imran Khan, hurry up, we are waiting for your statement

To make it easier, I’ve made a template you can use:

“I strongly condemn this action by the enemies of Pakistan. Because this was in a mosque during Friday prayers, this could not be the work of a Muslim and so I have evidence that this was a [RAW|MOSSAD|CIA|Foreign] conspiracy. In case this line of reasoning appears simple-minded to you, I will also go ahead and quickly rationalize this action. This is simply the direct result of [liberals|Americans|NATO|PPP government] who have brought us to this state due to the [so called “war on terror”|governor’s “rule”|waffling on the restoration of the judges]. Zardari has become as much of a dictator as Musharraf. And the root cause of this is that [America kay Ghulam|our so-called muslim elites|liberal fascists|MQM terrorists] are scared of [Shariah|free judiciary].”

Jamrud mosque bombing survivors speak about their experience:

Lying on a bed in surgical ward of the KTH, Khalid Mir had received abdominal injuries. Student of first-year at Higher Secondary School Jamrud, Mir still in his blood-soaked clothes, told The News he was standing in the third row inside the hall of the mosque.

“The moment imam (prayer leader) said Allah-o-Akbar I heard a deafening sound and saw a raging flame of fire and then smoke everywhere,” he said. “Everything was falling and the entire roof caved in and I was hit by a wooden beam,” he added.

Mir said that he was a player of volleyball and he along with his friends used to play game near the mosque. “We decided to offer Friday prayer before the game, but the fate has decided something else,” Khalid Mir said. Waqif, 17, from Jamrud was lying on the next bed. He received head injuries as well as shrapnel’s bruises on his face and right foot.

Talking to The News, he said that he was standing in the first row when a loud blast occurred. “A piece of slab fell on my foot. However, I managed to remove that and take out two of my cousins injured in the attack,” he said.

“Smoke was all around and bodies as well as the injured were scattered at the scene and the children were crying for help,” he said. Bakhat Zameen, 25, a driver by profession, sustained head injuries and also shrapnel’s mark on his left cheek. He said the moment he entered the mosque the blast occurred and people fell on one another. “Soon after the blast firing was also started by locals as well as by Khassadars,” he said.

The bodies and the injured were lying on the spot for more than 20 minutes as people were panicked and shocked, he said. Asim, a Khassadar force personnel hailing from Jamrud, admitted to the emergency ward of the HMC told The News that he discharging duty at the nearby checkpoint. “My duty starts at 3pm, but I left home to reach in time to offer my ‘juma’ (Friday) prayer in the mosque and then join the duty,” he said. Asim was standing in the veranda of the mosque when the suicide bomber blew himself up, injuring his (Asim) right leg and hands.

See Let us build Pakistan for more

2008-9 Bajaur military operation background


Starting from 1979 when the PDPA communist government of Afghanistan launched a military operation in Afghanistan’s Kunar province which ended up displacing over 2/3 of its population into Bajaur, Bajaur’s porous border with Afghanistan has been an important point of infiltration into Afghanistan, first against the Afghan army, then against the Soviets and since 2002, against the NATO forces. The Taliban are fully aware of the strategic importance of Bajaur in the fight against NATO in Afghanistan. Their commander for Kunar, Nuristan and Bajaur, Qari Zia ur Rahman, said, in an interview with Syed Saleem Shehzad, that “whoever has been defeated in Afghanistan, his defeat began from Bajaur”.

Bajaur also shares a south eastern border with Malakand where Sufi Muhammad’s TNSM movement is located. The TTP leader in Bajaur Faqir Muhammad has links with the TNSM movement and accompanied Sufi Muhammad to Afghanistan in his jihad against the Northern Alliance and the US in 2001. The madrassah in Chenagai in Bajaur that was destroyed in the famous missile attack in November 2006 was a TNSM madrassah, and Faqir Muhammad gave an angry speech at the funeral of the 82 people who were killed in the attack. The interesting thing about the Chenagai madrassah missile attack was that it was cited as the cause of the increase in militant attacks within Bajaur as well as the cause given by Maulana Fazlullah for the resumption of his militant activities in Swat. (his brother was killed in the attack).

So it’s very difficult to support the recent claims made by many in the Pakistan religious right, the federal government and the NWFP provincial government that the issue of Swat is a local issue, given the many links between the militancy in Swat and Bajaur. Similarly, given the long history infiltration into Kunar by militants based in Bajaur, it’s difficult to separate the anti-NATO militancy in Afghanistan from the TTP campaign in FATA and NWFP. Apart from the TTP and TNSM, other militant groups operating out of Bajaur are Jaish-e-Islam (JI) of Qari Wali Rahman (a.k.a. Raihan) and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI), a Punjabi cadre of militants headed by Qari Saifullah Akhtar.

The US missile attack on the Chenagai madrassah came a day before the Pakistani government was getting ready to sign a peace deal with the Bajaur militants along a similar line to their widely criticized September 5 Waziristan Accord. A few days after the madrassah attack, the first suicide attack on a military garrison (at Dargai, in NWFP) occurred and this led to the postponement of the peace deal. The Chenagai madrassah strike and the Dargai suicide bombing were, even before the Lal Masjid siege, important turning points in defining the militants’ increasingly antagonistic relationship with the Pakistani army. It’s important to note that following the Chenagai madrassah strike the Jamaat-e-Islami MNA from Bajaur resigned in protest and the Jamaat began to be even more fiercely critical of the Musharraf regime’s military policies in the tribal areas.

By the beginning of 2007, the security situation in Bajaur had deteriorated horribly, .e.g the Taliban had launched a leaflet campaign warning barbers in Khar not to shave beards, marketplaces were deserted and the Taliban had declared Shariah in Bajaur. Despite this, the military and NWFP governor Ali Muhammad Jan Orakzai went ahead and signed a peace deal in March 2007. The deal was said to have been made directly with the local TTP leader Faqir Muhammad. This deal was heavily criticized by the US as it, along with the Waziristan Accord had resulted in a reported 300% increase in cross border militant attacks into Afghanistan. A day after the deal was signed, an ISI official travelling through Bajaur was ambushed and killed. By June 2007, Governor Orakzai was warning the use of force “as a last resort” if the situation didn’t improve. By June 29, Faqir Muhammad had openly announced to journalists his plan to establish Shariah law in Bajaur, a bridge was blown up, tribal elders were ambushed and killed and in August tribal leaders were warned of a final round of talks with the militants after which the government would be forced to take strict action. Despite that, not much action was taken against the Bajaur militants in late 2007 as the army was busy in Swat driving the TNSM militants out of their stronghold in Imam Dehri (near Mingora) into the mountains and Musharraf was mired in political difficulties following his November 3rd emergency declaration. Also, in August 2007, contradicting the promises of harsh reprisal against militants in Bajaur, Musharraf had already announced that after January 2008 there would be no regular army in FATA:

“Paramilitary forces including Frontier Constabulary (FC), Levies and Khasadars will take over the charge of tribal areas from military, which would be withdrawn after January 2008,” the president told the FATA parliamentarians who called on him here at the camp office.

Following the February 2008 elections was a long period of political confusion during which the ANP-led provincial government conducted peace deals with the Swat militants while the military concurrently signed some peace deals with Baitullah Mehsud in Waziristan together with the new NWFP governor Owais Ahmed Ghani who had replaced governor Aurakzai in January 2008. In keeping with Musharraf’s promise in August 2007, the army was being completely withdrawn from FATA and the US was not pleased. There were several US drone attacks into FATA during this time including one in May on Damadola which killed around a dozen people. Following this attack, journalist Rifatullah Orakzai visited Damadola and reported that:

Taleban militants appear to be in complete control of two Bajaur sub-districts, Mamund and Salarzai, and people seem to be reluctant to express their opinions freely. 

Bajaur and Mohmand really came to attention again in June 2008 when Afghan forces  clashed with militants on the Kunar border. The militants retreated into the Pakistani side of the border (into Mohmand agency) and US missiles ended up bombing a Frontier Corps outpost killing 25 including 12 Frontier Corps soldiers who were allegedly assisting the militants. Pakistan-US relation were extremely tense and at their lowest point since 2002.

The things that pass for civil society

Scattered amidst our ‘civil society’ are people who look something like this:

Consider this column today by retired bureaucrat Roedad Khan:

When politics or politicians fail to resolve or even to address the great issues people face, what often happens is that civil society rises up to change politics. Historians call such moments “great awakenings” which often lead to big changes in society. Today Pakistan may be on the edge of such a time with a younger generation of lawyers and civil society as its cutting edge, ready to face the challenges and issues that weigh so heavily on this great country.

The political momentum now rests entirely with the “Black Coats” and the civil society. They can smell the march of their own power. At last, people have found their life mission, something to fight for, something to die for: fight dictatorship, military or civilian. They have also found the tool to achieve this mammoth task: street demonstrations

Roedad Khan was a corrupt right-leaning bureaucrat who served as Yahya Khan’s information secretary during which time he was said to have advised the regime to put the fear of god into the East Pakistanis, and as Zia’s Secretary General of the Interior ministry and about whom Shaheen Sehbai wrote:

Who does not remember his role as the leader of the secret election cell in the Ghulam Ishaq Khan presidency in 1990 when he rigged the election blatantly in collaboration with his colleague Ijlal Haider Zaidi and General Rafaqat? His exploits have all been recorded in several books written about those elections. Does that conduct fit into his description of “nothing to die for and nothing to live for” or was it only for a short-term gain?

Today, Roedad Khan has become, like everyone else, an analyst, a member of civil society and like others including Shireen Mazari, a member of Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaaf [edit: am not 100% about this last part]

Here’s a column by Roedad Khan 7 years ago, entitled “Threat to the Islamic World”:

We are told that Pakistan would have ceased to exist if it had resisted US demands and not cooperated in the war against Afghanistan. “When you are face-to-face with a wolf, your only option is to work with it, until it becomes a pet”. Unfortunately the American wolf does not make a very good pet. There can be no friendship between the cat and the mouse. There can be no friendship between the strong and the weak or between unequals.

By succumbing to American pressure, we managed to secure a temporary reprieve. But at what price? Pakistan is splattered with American fortresses, seriously compromising our internal and external sovereignty. Foreign troops stationed on our soil move in and out of the country without any let or hindrance. Pakistan has become a launching pad for military operations against neighbouring Muslim countries. We have been drawn into somebody else’s war without understanding its true dimension or ultimate objectives.

Which was a good summary of the reasons for Roedad Khan and his kind’s (Aslam Beg, Hamid Gul, etc) break with the army from that point until Musharraf’s dismissal last year. It was not a principled break but a tactical one due to a difference in perspective which today, with the help of some unimportant leftie lawyers, has been resolved in their favour.

So we should be worried. In Pakistan it doesn’t really matter what people are saying because more often than not they all talk the same old shit: about human rights, and dignity, and the glory of Islam. What matters is who is saying it, and why.

Jason Burke

Recent years have seen the consolidation of a new Pakistani identity between these two extremes. It is nationalist, conservative in religious and social terms and much more aggressive in asserting what are seen, rightly or wrongly, as local “Pakistani” interests. It is a mix of patriotic chauvinism and moderate Islamism that is currently heavily informed by a distorted view of the world sadly all too familiar across the entire Muslim world. This means that for many Pakistanis, the west is rapacious and hostile. Admiration for the British and desire for holidays in London have been replaced by a view of the UK as “America’s poodle” and dreams of Dubai or Malaysia. The 9/11 attacks are seen, even by senior army officers, as a put-up job by Mossad, the CIA or both. The Indians, the old enemy, are seen as running riot in Afghanistan where the Taliban are “freedom fighters”. AQ Khan, the nuclear scientist seen as a bomb-selling criminal by the West, is a hero. Democracy is seen as the best system, but only if democracy results in governments that take decisions that reflect the sentiments of most Pakistanis, not just those of the Anglophone, westernised elite among whom western policy-makers, politicians and journalists tend to chose their interlocutors.

This view of the world is most common among the new, urban middle classes in Pakistan, much larger after a decade of fast and uneven economic growth. It is this class that provides the bulk of the country’s military officers and bureaucrats. This in part explains the Pakistani security establishment’s dogged support for elements within the Taliban. The infamous ISI spy agency is largely staffed by soldiers and the army is a reflection of society. For the ISI, as for many Pakistanis, supporting certain insurgent factions in Afghanistan is seen as the rational choice. If this trend continues, it poses us problems rather different from those posed by a failed state. Instead, you have a nuclear armed nation with a large population that is increasingly vocal and which sees the world very differently from us.

Sherry Rehman, and liberal principles

This editorial from the pro-PML paper “The News” made me think a bit about the futility of principled behavior towards the Pakistani right-wing.

Rarely can apology have seemed more hollow than that tendered repeatedly by information minister Sherry Rehman to the civil society activist Tahira Abdullah. Both women were appearing on a popular daytime television talk-show. One of them had slept sound in her bed the night before; the other had suffered the indignity of being roused from her sleep in the small hours, her door battered by the police, and then carted off into detention, albeit briefly. Ms Abdullah was weeping. Not the phony tears of the cinema, but the real tears that come with the realization that those values which she believed in – justice, peace, equality – had been trampled at her own front door by the very party which she believed was going to uphold and protect those values

This paragraph contains many things that I feel — outrage at the arrest and regret at the state of the Pakistani left. But the context it’s written in, just like all the other “Benazir would never have wanted this” comments from the right, is just laughable. The way to think about it is that these people capitalize on the principles of liberals and then use them to neutralize their opposition to their side’s own completely unrestrained behaviour.

Sherry Rehman’s apology may have been “hollow” (I do not think it was). But where was the apology for Najam Sethi or for Jugnu Mohsin?

The real reason why I was arrested by Nawaz Sharif had to do with a BBC documentary in which I had taken part, exposing the corruption of the PM. I was interviewed by the BBC in Pakistan two days before I left for India . The IB found out and informed the PM. Saif ur-Rehman called me and asked what I had told the BBC. I told him: “everything.” “Negative or positive?” he asked. “Is there anything positive in your regime?” I replied. “We will get you,” he warned.

Where is the movement to restore justice Sajjad Ali Shah?

Why is this country currently being held hostage to the principles of the left in the hands of one the most unprincipled individuals the right has ever produced?

If I could only attend one political event in Pakistan

… it would have been this meeting between Pir Pagara and Sheikh Rashid Ahmed this week. The best part was Pir Pagara’s advice to the Chaudhry brothers (they should leave the country immediately):

Some videos

Talat Hussain interview with Nawaz Sharif
I am still looking for a video of Safdar Abbasi’s speech today so if anyone has it please post a link in the comments, thanks! 
Tahira Abdullah and Sherry Rehman on Capital Talk. A very upsetting video.

Some Imran Khan quotes about Shariah in Pakistan

  • From Kal Tak with Javed Chaudhry 21/1/2009
    [This is his answer to the first question in which he talks about shariah in general terms, and not specific to Swat (although I suppose it’s open to interpretation)]

    IK: dekhiyay, sharamnaak baat yeh hai keh hum kehtay hain… hum musalman hain aur shariat say dar jaatay hain. Shariat kya hai? Shariat nabi (SAW) ka rasta hai. Yeh aap ki… agar aap musalman hain tau aap shariat pay chalna chahtay hain.

    humain khauf hai shariat ka naam laytay huay dartay hain. yeh jo badkismatay hai kay jo mulk kay parhay likhay laug hain, woh kamaskam batayain tau sahi keh shariat kya hai. main aap ko batata hoon keh meri nazar main shariat kya hai. Shariat khilafat-e-rashidun hai. Uss ki kya bunyaad thi? Adal aur insaaf; aur falahi rryasaat, aur aik khuddar ryaasat jo kisi aur power kay saamnay na jhukay. yeh shariat nizam ki bunyaad hai. hum kyun dartay hain shariat ka naam laytay huay?

  • Jawab Deh with Iftikhar Ahmed, 1/2/2009 (great interview btw)[this had nothing to do with Swat .. 23:00 into the video]

    Iftikhar Ahmed: aap shariat kay haami hain?

    IK: main bilkul samajhta hoon kay shariath honi chahiyay. Aur shariat jo mainay study ki hay woh khilafat-e-rashidun main jo shari nizam hai woh jo aap nai shuru main tehrik e insaaf ka manshoor bataya tha: khuddari, insaniyat, aur insaaf. yeh teen. yeh shariat ki yeh bunyaad hai

    Iftikhar Ahmed: is mulk main kis fiqah ki shariat par amal kiya jayay ga?

    IK: main to nahin jaanta, main to apni ki [shariah] define kar raha hoon. main to yeh keh raha hoon jo main … study kiya hai, aik islami ma’ashray main insaniyat honi chahiyay aik falahi ryaasat honi chahiyay, udhar adal aur insaaf hona chahiyay.

    after this there is a great section in which he rationalizes suicide
    bombing, etc.

  • Meray mutabiq with Shahid Masood 2/22/2009

    IK: …aik hamari so called liberal class hai, woh dar gayi hai keh shariat aagayi hai, ab pata nahin shariat aagayi hai to kya honay wala hai, haath kaT jayain gay. Shariah to adal aur insaaf hai, insaan ko insaan banati hai aqalmand jaanwar say insaan banta hai. Shariat to aik ma’ashray kay andar adal aur insaaf, aur insaniyat, falahi ryaasat ka naam hai

    Shahid Masood: yeh kaam acha kiya phir hukumut nay?

    IK: main yeh keh raha hoon, in logon nain to pressure main kiya…

    SM: Laikin kaam acha kya, na?

    SM: aik aisa kaam karti hai jo unke manifesto main nahin tha. yeh ajeeb si baat nahin hoee?

    IK: yeh jo laug lay kay aayay thay iss hukumut ko woh liberal alliance bananay aayay thay, main bataadoon, woh Negroponte aur Boucher nain jo liberal alliance banayi thi, Musharraf ki aur PPP ki, ab Allah ki shaan dekhain kay liberal alliance Shariah lay aayi hai (laughs) yeh bhi Allah ki shaan dekhain (laughs again). Udhar ANP bhi liberal thay. Ab dekhain na, Holbrooke ki statement kitni ghalat hai keh yeh jo shari nizam hai yeh baRa bura ho ga. Kya ab woh hamain yeh bhi bataayaiN gay keh hamain kaunsa Islam laana hai?